Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Automatic Question Numbering.

Automatic Question Numbering

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 29, 2015)

Cara works for a school district, and part of her responsibilities includes putting together some quizzes and tests for teachers. She is looking for a quick way to put together true/false questions, using the following format:

_____ 1. This is the question

There are several different ways you can accomplish this task. Some folks suggest that you use a three-column table. The first column can contain the underline (done either using the underscore character or by applying a bottom border to the appropriate cell), the second can contain the question number and period, and the third can contain the question itself. The advantage of this approach is that it is very easy to format each component of the questions easily. The drawback, of course, is that setting up the table and putting things in the proper cells can take a little extra time.

Another approach suggested is to change the way that Word does its automatic numbering. Follow these steps:

  1. Type all your questions without any numbers or underlines at the beginning of them.
  2. Select all the questions.
  3. Choose Bullets and Numbering from the Formats menu. Word displays the Bullets and Numbering dialog box.
  4. Make sure the Numbered tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Numbered tab of the Bullets and Numbering dialog box.

  6. From the gallery of available numbering formats, click on one that you don't use that often.
  7. Click the Customize button. Word displays the Customize Numbered List dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  8. Figure 2. The Customize Numbered List dialog box.

  9. In the Number Format box, put the insertion point before the number.
  10. Type four or five underscores, followed by a space. (You should end up with the underscores, a space, the number 1, and a period.)
  11. Click OK.

The customized numbering, with the leading underlines, is applied to the questions you selected in step 2. Further, if you add any questions in the middle, the question numbering is automatically adjusted. The drawback to this approach is that you cannot have the underline left-justified and the number right-justified at the same time. (For most uses this won't be a big drawback.)

A third approach is to use the automatic numbering fields available in Word, and then create an AutoText entry that contains the numbering field. Follow these steps:

  1. On a blank line in your document, type four or five underlines, then press Tab.
  2. Press Ctrl+F9 to insert a set of field braces.
  3. Type the following within the field braces: listnum \L7
  4. With the insertion point still within the field braces, press F9. The field is collapsed and replaced with a number and period (1.).
  5. Right after the period, press Tab.
  6. Adjust the tab settings for the paragraph so that the question number is positioned where you want it to be and the question itself will start where you want it to start.
  7. If you believe your questions may reasonably run more than a single line in length, adjust the indent of the paragraph so it "hangs" to the same position as the second tab stop you set in step 6.
  8. Select the entire paragraph.
  9. Press Alt+F3. The Create AutoText dialog box appears. (See Figure 3.)
  10. Figure 3. The Create AutoText dialog box.

  11. Provide a name for the question template you've created.
  12. Click OK. The AutoText entry is now created.

Now, whenever you want to create a new question, simply type the name you defined in step 10 and press F3. The question template appears, and you can type the question you desire. The numbering for the questions will be updated to consecutive numbers when you choose to print the document.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (306) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Automatic Question Numbering.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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